Wulff opens up competition at guard

PULLMAN – With rain coming down, the Cougs took to the indoor practice bubble Tuesday for a long, slug-it-out practice. Stoking the competitive fires, WSU coaches put both starting guard positions up for grabs. That means a rock ‘em, sock ‘em battle among Andrew Roxas and Brian Danaher, the starters last week, and B.J. Guerra, Steven Ayers, Will Hunter and possibly even tackle Vaughn Lesuma.

"It's about producing and they're trying to find someone who will," said Andrew Roxas. "It's up for grabs right now and definitely I'm going to play hard for it...I need to play better. I flat out need to play better and produce." Most of his miscues against Arizona, he said, were mental ones.

On the defensive line, nine-game starting tackle Matt Eichelberger, who lost his job to sophomore Toby Turpin early in the Stanford game, didn't get off the bench at all against Arizona.

Even though the line was so thin Saturday that the Cougars went to a 3-5 alignment, Eichelberger didn't play a single snap. Asked about the change, Wulff said it was primarily due to Eichelberger's performance although the emergence of Turpin made the decision easier.

Turpin posted three tackles and one quarterback hurry against the Widlcats.

"I definitely have to get stronger and bigger," said the one-time standout from California prep powerhouse Los Alamitos High. "I'm only 270 right now, I'm trying to get up to about 280-290-295, get in there in the middle with all these big boys. We've got some huge offensive linemen we've been playing against and I'm just kinda small."

Turpin weighed 260 when he signed with WSU over offers from Arizona State, Washington, Colorado and Boise State.

Turpin noted that Eichelberger, a senior from Bellingham, has been supportive despite losing the starting role. "He's helping me a lot," said Turpin. "He's always watching me and giving me pointers, helping me out, telling me what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong, so I really appreciate that from him"

He also noted Eichelberger is working hard to get his job back. "I see him in the pass rushing one on ones and he's kicking butt. He's getting after it, he still wants to play."

Wulff said the move to three down linemen – Turpin, A'I Ahmu and Matt Mullennix – was made out of necessity and that the Cougs "did okay with it considering the short amount of time we had to prepare to do it."

• Wulff said running back Logwone Mitz, who made his first career start against Arizona and gained 57 yards, has continued to improve throughout the season and his confidence has grown. "He's not where he needs to be, but he's sure made progress. He needs to keep working hard...If he's healthy and keeps showing us that he can play well and help the team, then heck yeah he'll play more."

• RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) ran in practice for the first time in a while, but Wulff listed him as "very, very questionable," for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time tiff at Arizona State.

• DE/OLB Andy Mattingly (ankle) is questionable as well. Wulff isn't optimistic about his return this week but wasn't ready to rule it out.

• Cornerback Tyrone Justin (ankle) practiced a bit Tuesday and Wulff predicted he would be available for Saturday. Myron Beck (broken hand) attended practice but didn't participate.

• The Sun Devils (3-6) are 36 ½-point favorites over the 1-9 Cougars. The game will not be televised.

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